Knowmads, Infocology of the future
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Maybe We're Making It Too Easy For The Machines To Take Over

Maybe We're Making It Too Easy For The Machines To Take Over | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Machines that can think for themselves attached to a global brain with the ability to self replicate? Yeah, we're making that happen.


We have seen the future, and it's starting to look a lot like Skynet.

That self-aware computer system—yes, the one that tries to exterminate the human race in the Terminator movies (and one TV show)—is a potent symbol of Frankensteinian hubris. It is mirrored in the Singularity, the idea that technological progress will soon hit exponential growth, leading to self-aware robots and artificial intelligence that seize control of their own destiny, rendering humans irrelevant if not extinct. (Unless people go transhuman first, although that's another article entirely.)

The Singularity may never happen. Artificial intelligence—long predicted, never realized—may be much harder to achieve than we think. An emerging computer consciousness might pass through a period of infancy, during which humanity might be able to take countermeasures of one sort or another. Self-aware robots might turn out to be benevolent, or even completely uninterested in humanity. It's impossible to predict.

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We could all be pets in an elaborate alien zoo, claims Neil deGrasse Tyson

We could all be pets in an elaborate alien zoo, claims Neil deGrasse Tyson | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Planet Earth could be an elaborate zoo created by a hyper-intelligent alien civilisation, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has claimed. And such aliens, he added, might even be inflicting “weird politics” on us as a form of entertainment.

Tyson, who was amongst the guests at the Starmus conference in Tenerife, Spain, said he remained pessimistic about humanity making contact with intelligent alienlife, arguing that our relative lack of intelligence could either be bad news for discovery or allow us to exist in blissful ignorance.

“I fear the day we come upon a species such as that. Maybe I don’t fear it, I just hope that all they would do for us is create a zoo where we are happy. And maybe that is what they call Earth”

Tyson was in part responding to statements made by Stephen Hawking in July last year. At the time Hawking said the discovery of alien life could destroy humanity, but that we should keep searching for it anyway.

But Tyson is said the likelihood of that happening were low. “A sufficiently intelligent civilisation would have positively no interest in us at all," he said. "In the same way as when you’re walking down a street and there’s a worm there.”. And even if you wanted to kill all the worms, he continued, you’d soon get bored and do something else.

“Maybe our biggest protection against being killed by alien civilizations is their conclusion that there’s no intelligent civilisation on Earth,” Tyson continued. “Suppose in fact that intelligence has come to the galaxy. Who are we to then decide that we are intelligent? We define our our intelligence. Of course we’re intelligent because we define it.” he said.
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Why are some people so nasty? Blame their DNA

Why are some people so nasty? Blame their DNA | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
A mathematical model could help us understand why some people evolve to be nice and why others seem to be inherently nasty.

The model, designed by Sasha Dall from the University of Exeter, offers a framework for "examining social behaviour in a range of different species" to help us understand how social relationships have evolved over time.

The model is based on the idea of "kin selection", which seeks to explain why some animals are altruistic – sometimes at their own expense – for the benefit of their pack or family as a whole. One example used by Dall is worker bees. These bees are willing to die for the benefit of the Queen bee, but why this behaviour evolved was previously unknown.

The Exeter team examined microbial colonies to explore the basis of altruism.

The found that there was a genetic tendency in some species that could predict whether an animal was likely to be altruistic or selfish. This tendency was more pronounced than other factors, including relatedness to members of community and surroundings.

"As humans, our behaviours are flexible and we base what we are meant to do on what we are meant to do on what we see after processing information about our world," said Dall.
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Autonomous buses hit the road in Switzerland

Autonomous buses hit the road in Switzerland | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Switzerland has joined a growing number of places around the world exploring the potential of electric autonomous buses, with a pair of driverless shuttles now ferrying passengers around the city of Sion as part of a two-year trial.

Other autonomous buses being tested out across the globe include the EZ10 in California and Singapore, the Navia also in Singapore, and the IBM-powered Olli in Washington DC that can even talk to its passengers en route.

Much like these projects, Switzerland's buses will take to public roads with local regulators eying a wider deployment of low-carbon, autonomous mass transport. The vehicles will be operated by Switzerland's leading public bus operator, PostBus, and will navigate Sion's city streets using software developed by startup BestMile, which spin out of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL).

The buses have been fitted with air conditioning, a backup battery, an access ramp for the disabled and are capable of carrying 11 passengers at a time, who will ride free of charge. The two vehicles will follow a route along the edge of the city of 33,000 residents and pass through pedestrian areas, but they won't exactly be humming along, traveling only at a top speed of 20 km/h (12 mph).
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We made a minimal cell and began a synthetic-life revolution –
Dan Gibson | Aeon Ideas

The American physicist Richard Feynman once said: ‘What I cannot create, I do not understand.’ With that inspiration, my colleagues and I set out to attain a deeper understanding of life by assembling it ourselves. Over the past 15 years, our teams at the J Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) and Synthetic Genomics, Inc (SGI), both in La Jolla, California, have been developing tools to design whole genomes, synthesise and assemble them in the lab, and install them into a living cell. Our goal was not just to elucidate the genetic components required for life, but also to establish the capacity to create organisms custom-tailored to specific industrial applications. This spring we achieved a breakthrough in our work.

It hasn’t been easy. The technologies for chemically synthesising and activating whole bacterial chromosomes converged a full six years ago, when we announced the creation of the first synthetic cell. To build that cell, we first assembled 60-base single-stranded DNA (derived from the genome of the Mycoplasma mycoides yeast essentially as it occurs in nature) into double-stranded DNA fragments. We stitched these fragments together in the lab using a combination of biomolecules we discovered that can reassemble pieces of DNA. We then combined our new genetic sequences inside a yeast cell. The synthetic genome was 1,078,809 base pairs (genetic letters) long, the largest chemically defined structure synthesised in a laboratory.
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Is psychology really in crisis?

Is psychology really in crisis? | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Modern psychology is apparently in crisis. This claim is nothing new. From phrenology to psychoanalysis, psychology has traditionally had an uneasy scientific status. Indeed, the philosopher of science, Karl Popper, viewed Freud’s theories as a typical example of pseudoscience because no test could ever show them to be false. More recently, psychology has feasted on a banquet of extraordinary findings whose scientific credibility has also been questioned.

Some of these extraordinary findings include Daryl Bem’s experiments, published in 2011, that seem to show future events influence the past. Bem, an emeritus professor at Cornell University, revealed that people are more likely to remember a list of words if they practise them after a recall test, compared with practising them before the test. In another study, he showed that people are significantly better than chance at selecting which of two curtains hide a pornographic image.

Then there’s Yale’s John Bargh who in 1996 reported that, when unconsciously primed with an “elderly stereotype” (by unscrambling jumbled sentences containing words such as “Florida” and “bingo”), people subsequently walk more slowly. Add to this Roy Baumeister who in 1998 presented evidence suggesting we have a finite store of will-power which is sapped whenever we resist temptations such as eating chocolates. Or, in the same year, Ap Dijksterhuis and Ad Van Knippenberg showing that performance on Trivial Pursuit is better after people list typical characteristics of a professor rather than those of a football hooligan.
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This AI learned to predict the future by watching loads of TV

This AI learned to predict the future by watching loads of TV | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
One difficulty faced by artificial intelligence is predicting what humans are going to do next. To help solve that problem, researched have trained an algorithm by making it binge-watch TV.

Computer vision experts from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) made an algorithm watch 600 hours of TV shows including Ugly Betty, Scrubs, The Big Bang Theory, The Office (US) and more.

In each of the clips, taken from YouTube, humans were performing tasks and interacting with each other.

After analysing the videos, the AI was then made to watch a clip it hadn't seen before and predict what would happen. The system was allowed to make multiple predictions about what might happen between one and five seconds in the future.

"In some cases our model correctly predicts that a man and woman are about to kiss or hug or that men in a bar will high five," the researchers wrote.

"[However] our model incorrectly forecasts a hug because a third person unexpectedly enters the scene".

The computer model was able to predict what would happen next 43 per cent of the time. "We believe abundantly available unlabelled videos are an effective resource we can use to acquire knowledge about the world, which we can use to learn to anticipate future," the researchers wrote in their paper.

And the "unlabelled" nature of the videos is key: they didn't have captions or descriptions explaining what happened so the AI had to work everything out by itself. To validate the results the researchers used labelled videos in the reported tests.
Vladimir Ignatov's curator insight, June 24, 4:07 PM

Maybe watching a lot of TV is not bad after all?

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Sex, maggots, castration and politicians lead to this year's Golden Goose Award

Sex, maggots, castration and politicians lead to this year's Golden Goose Award | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
This is a story about flesh-eating maggots, politicians, castration and the sex life of the screwworm – although not necessarily in that order. It also involves one particular Golden Goose, but in this case, it's not a bird kept by a giant in the clouds, but rather an award that honors federally funded scientific research that might seem "silly, odd, or obscure when first conducted, but has resulted in significant benefits to society." And in this case, those benefits extend to battling the bugs that spread the Zika virus.

To put this all in the proper order, it's necessary to travel back to scientific field stations in Texas and Florida in the 1930s, 40s and 50s. There, two entomological researchers, Edward F. Knipling and Raymond C. Bushland, figured out a technique to eradicate the screwworm fly, which was wreaking havoc with livestock across America and costing ranchers hundreds of millions of dollars per year in losses and pest management. The screwworm lays its eggs in wounds such as those found on cattle, pigs and chickens. The maggots from those eggs hatch and eat the flesh in the wound, killing a full-sized cow in under two weeks.

To stop the zombie-like insect from continuing to thrive, Knipling and Bushland devised an insect-sterilization technique that's still in use today. The pair postulated that if they could sterilize the male screwworms through radiation, they'd be unable to reproduce and the population would eventually dwindle. And that's exactly what they did, even though they were often mocked and told by colleagues that they could never "castrate enough flies."

By 1982 their technique had wiped out the screwworm all the way down to Panama and, according to The Golden Goose Award website, that has saved farmers and ranchers billions of dollars over the past 50-plus years, plus it has given US consumers an estimated five percent reduction in the cost of beef at the supermarket.
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Even Small Children Are Less Helpful after Touching Money

Even Small Children Are Less Helpful after Touching Money | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Merely touching money has the power to alter our behavior. Money makes us more selfish, less helpful, and less generous towards others. One experiment, for example, had a pedestrian drop a bus pass in front of people who had just gotten money out of a cash machine or merely walked past the machine. People who had gotten money out of the cash machine were less likely to alert the woman that she had dropped her pass. While money can hamper helpfulness, it also confers psychological advances in the form of making people more persistent and more successful at solving challenging problems.

Our own research reveals that handling money can trigger all these behaviors, in different cultures, at a surprisingly early age—3 years-old. Even the very young are less likely to lend a helping hand, after touching money, or to work harder at solving challenging problems like correctly solving a labyrinth. And, all this happens despite a relative lack of experience with money or knowledge of its value. Money has the power to shift behavior in desirable and undesirable ways even before children can understand that a dime is worth more than a nickel. We were surprised to discover that an everyday occurrence around the world—simply touching cash—can trigger changes in behavior so early on in life. These findings could have implications for achievement, generosity and interpersonal harmony.

We documented the effects of money on young children’s behavior in a series of experiments. In one experiment, we instructed some children to sort money by denomination, while others sorted buttons by color. They then went to a different room where their performance on a difficult task was put to the test. They were given a maze to solve and were told they could quit at any time. Money sorters worked longer and were more successful at solving the maze than button sorters. In another experiment, 3 year-olds sorted coins and banknotes, or buttons and paper slips, before moving to a different room. There they met an experimenter who asked for their help readying materials for the next child she would test. She gave them a basket and asked the children to bring her as many red crayons as they could from a box in the far corner of the room. Money sorters were less helpful, overall, than button and paper sorters.

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First self-driving ‘cognitive’ vehicle uses IBM Watson Internet of Things | KurzweilAI

First self-driving ‘cognitive’ vehicle uses IBM Watson Internet of Things | KurzweilAI | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Local Motors, creator of the world’s first 3D-printed cars, has developed the first self-driving “cognitive” vehicle, using IBM Watson Internet of Things (IoT) for Automotive.

The vehicle, dubbed “Olli,” can carry up to 12 people. It uses IBM Watson and other systems to improve the passenger experience and allow natural interaction with the vehicle. Olli will be used on public roads locally in Washington DC and later this year in Miami-Dade County.

Olli is the first vehicle to use the cloud-based cognitive computing capability of IBM Watson IoT to analyze and learn from high volumes of transportation data, produced by more than 30 sensors embedded throughout the vehicle. Sensors will be added and adjusted continually as passenger needs and local preferences are identified.

Four Watson developer APIs — Speech to Text, Natural Language Classifier, Entity Extraction and Text to Speech — will enable passengers to interact conversationally with Olli while traveling from point A to point B, discussing topics about how the vehicle works, where they are going, and why Olli is making specific driving decisions.

Watson empowers Olli to understand and respond to passengers’ questions as they enter the vehicle, such as destinations (“Olli, can you take me downtown?”) or specific vehicle functions (“how does this feature work?” or even “are we there yet?”). Passengers can also ask for recommendations on local destinations such as popular restaurants or historical sites based on analysis of personal preferences.

“Cognitive computing provides incredible opportunities to create unparalleled, customized experiences for customers, taking advantage of the massive amounts of streaming data from all devices connected to the Internet of Things, including an automobile’s myriad sensors and systems,” said Harriet Green, General Manager, IBM Watson Internet of Things, Commerce & Education.
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Touchscreens for dogs, wearables for chickens: welcome to the world of animal technology

Touchscreens for dogs, wearables for chickens: welcome to the world of animal technology | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Imagine leaving your dog at home while it turns on the smart TV and chooses a programme to watch. Meanwhile you visit a zoo where you play interactive touchscreen games with the apes and watch the dolphins using sonar to order their lunch. In the field behind you, a farmer is stroking his flock of chickens virtually, leaving the drones to collect sheep while the cows milk themselves. Welcome to the unusual world of animal technology.

Animals have interacted with technology for a long time, from tracking devices for conservation research to zoos with early touchscreen computers. But more recently, the field of animal-computer interaction (ACI) has begun to explore in more detail exactly how animals use technology like this. The hope is that better understanding animals' relationship with technology will means we can use it to monitor and improve their welfare.

The explosion of research in ACI has been followed by pet products that allow owners to monitor their pets when out of the house and even play games with them. For example the PetCube toy lets owners control a laser that the pets can chase while talking to them using a video app on their smartphones. Other apps allow owners to monitor their pets' health, exercise and habits. Research into the app CompanionViz showed this data gave owners an enhanced understanding of their pet’s health and strengthened their companionship.

My own research involves building intelligent tracking devices for dogs that let them interact with media on a screen so we can study how dogs use TV and what they like to watch (if anything). Perhaps unsurprisingly, I’ve found that dogs like to watch videos of other dogs. This has led me to track dogs dogs' gaze across individual and multiple screens and attempts to work out how best to make media just for dogs.
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Breakthrough in understanding the chills and thrills of musical rapture

Breakthrough in understanding the chills and thrills of musical rapture | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
The skin comes out in goosebumps and tingles run up the spine. But how particular pieces of music can induce such rapturous effects in people has stumped researchers for centuries.

With the passing of time comes new technology though, and suitably equipped with modern brain scanning equipment, scientists may now have made some headway.

In the latest effort to understand “the chills”, researchers in the US put out a call for music fans who either consistently experienced euphoric sensations on hearing certain tracks, or who hardly ever felt them at all.

“It stemmed from a deep interest in intense, profound emotional responses, in particular those that come from music,” said Matthew Sachs, a graduate student at the University of Southern California who conducted the experiments at Harvard University. “I’ve always been fascinated by how a collection of tones changing over time has the ability to evoke these very strong sensations.”

More than 200 people responded to the call and filled out online personality questionnaires. From these, Sachs and others at Harvard and Wesleyan University in Connecticut selected 10 to form a “chill group” and another 10 to form a “no chill” group.

Before having their brains scanned, the 20 volunteers went into the lab with playlists of music they found most pleasurable. The tracks ranged from the Liebestod from Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde and Coldplay’s Strawberry Swing to Bag Raiders’ Shooting Stars and Blue Devils Drum Corps’s Constantly Risking Absurdity.

Using a battery of tests, the researchers measured the volunteers’ physiological responses to the music they brought in and other tracks chosen to act as controls. The tests allowed the team to confirm that even though all of the participants were self-professed music fans, only half regularly experienced the curious sensation of the chills.
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All 'illegal' drugs should be decriminalised, experts say

All 'illegal' drugs should be decriminalised, experts say | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Two leading public health organisations have called for the personal possession of "all illegal drugs" to be decriminalised.

The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) and the Faculty of Public Health say that the call "forms part of a wider package of measures aimed at moving UK drugs strategy away from a predominantly criminal justice approach towards one based on public health and harm reduction".

The groups also claim the public agree with them – in a poll of more than 2,000 UK adults, more than half (56 per cent) agreed that drug users should be "referred to treatment, rather than charged with a criminal offence".
Read more

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By Emily Reynolds

A new RSPH report, Taking a New Line on Drugs, has offered a set of recommendations for the governmentto consider.

It suggests that decriminalisation would decrease drug related harm, which has continued to rise despite overall drug use falling in recent years.

Treatment and education should be the tools used to tackle drug related deaths, the groups claim.

"For too long, UK and global drugs strategies have pursued reductions in drug use as an end in itself, failing to recognise that harsh criminal sanctions have pushed vulnerable people in need of treatment to the margins of society, driving up harm to health and wellbeing even as overall use fall," said Shirley Cramer, Chief Executive of RSPH.

Cramer continued to say that the "war of drugs" has failed and that a "new approach was needed.
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The truth about working for Deliveroo, Uber and the on-demand economy

The truth about working for Deliveroo, Uber and the on-demand economy | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
It’s the simplicity that is so seductive. Thanks to apps such as Uber or Handy, in a few clicks you can be whisked home by a private driver, to a spotlessly cleaned flat, where your favourite meal is brought to your door. So perhaps it’s no surprise that Deliveroo, the company that delivers restaurant food to your door, is expecting to hit revenues of £130m this year. While every week in London alone, 30,000 people download Uber and book a car for the first time, the firm now valued at $62.5bn.

Supporters argue that this “on demand” economy offers those who choose to work for them the independence and flexibility to fit their work to their lifestyle, or supplement their income from another job. Uber’s UK chief, Jo Bertram, points out: “Over two-thirds of new people signing up to drive with Uber have been referred by an existing partner-driver because they love the freedom and flexibility.” While Deliveroo say they have more than 3,000 riders in the UK – a number that is rising weekly.

But maybe it’s not as simple as it seems: strikes and class actions by workers in the on-demand economy, along with government restrictions, seem to be popping up as quickly as new apps. So what is it really like working in the on-demand world? We asked four people about their experience.
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Rats feel empathy for other rats – unless they're on anti-anxiety meds

Rats feel empathy for other rats – unless they're on anti-anxiety meds | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Rats are able to feel empathy for, and help out, other rats, new research claims – unless they've been given a dose of anti-anxiety medication.

Rats given midazolam, which is commonly used for anaesthesia, sedation and severe agitation, were less likely to free fellow rats from locked cages than counterparts who had not been given the drug.

Previous studies had found that rats were willing and able to free other rats from small containers. But this research was not replicated when the free rats were given the midazolam.

They would, however, release the container when it contained a treat such as chocolate.

"We wanted to know what drives these rats," said Peggy Mason, who led the study. "And the rats help each other because they care."

"They need to share the affect of the trapped rat in order to help, and that’s a fundamental finding that tells us something about how we operate, because we’re mammals like rats too."

The team hypothesise that the rats were not motivated to help one another when medicated because their heart rates did not increase enough for them to experience distress.

"Helping others could be your new drug. Go help some people and you’ll feel really good," said Mason. "I think that’s a mammalian trait that has developed through evolution. Helping another is good for the species."
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Ocean Cleanup Project's trash-catching prototype takes to the angry Dutch seas

Ocean Cleanup Project's trash-catching prototype takes to the angry Dutch seas | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Its been a few years since Boyan Slat first revealed his bold concept to clean up the world's oceans, and now we're set to see how his trash-catching barriers fare in the real world. The Dutch entrepreneur's Ocean Cleanup Project has successfully deployed its debut prototype off the coast of the Netherlands, which will serve as a first test-case ahead of a much larger installation planned to tackle the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 2020. Slat's garbage-collecting barriers have been described as artificial coastlines. They are basically long floating arms that rely on the ocean's natural currents to gather up plastic waste. Since he first introduced the concept, the Ocean Cleanup Project has raised US$2.1 million in crowdfunding and completed a feasibility study on its main target, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which some experts believe to be twice the size of Texas.
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Scientists begin modeling universe with Einstein's full theory of general relativity - Scienmag

Scientists begin modeling universe with Einstein's full theory of general relativity - Scienmag | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Research teams on both sides of the Atlantic have shown that precise modeling of the universe and its contents will change the detailed understanding of the evolution of the universe and the growth of structure in it.

One hundred years after Einstein introduced general relativity, it remains the best theory of gravity, the researchers say, consistently passing high-precision tests in the solar system and successfully predicting new phenomena such as gravitational waves, which were recently discovered by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory.

The equations of general relativity, unfortunately, are notoriously difficult to solve. For the past century, physicists have used a variety of assumptions and simplifications in order to apply Einstein's theory to the universe.

On Earth, that's something like averaging the music made by a symphony. The audience would hear a single average note, keeping the overall beat, growing generally louder and softer rather than the individual notes and rhythms of each of the orchestra's instruments.

Wanting details and their effects, U.S. and European teams each wrote computer codes that will eventually lead to the most accurate possible models of the universe and provide new insights into gravity and its effects.
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Invisibilia: Is Your Personality Fixed, Or Can You Change Who You Are?

Invisibilia: Is Your Personality Fixed, Or Can You Change Who You Are? | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
This is the story of a prisoner who committed a horrible crime and says he's no longer the same person who did it. It's also the story of why it's so hard for us to believe him.

In the early 1960s, a young psychologist at Harvard University was assigned to teach a class on personality. Though Walter Mischel was excited to prove himself as a teacher, there was one small problem: He didn't happen to know very much about personality.

"So, realizing I had to teach this stuff, I decided to look at the literature," says Mischel, who now works at Columbia University. "And I found myself enormously puzzled."

Mischel, like pretty much every other psychologist at the time, had some basic assumptions about personality. The first was that people had different personalities, and that those personalities could be defined by certain traits, such as extroversion, conscientiousness, sociability.

At the time, personality researchers liked to argue about which traits were most important. But they never argued about the underlying premise of their field — that whatever traits you had were stable throughout your life and consistent across different situations.

"For example, a friendly person is someone who should be friendly over time," Mischel says. "So if he's friendly at 20, he should be friendly at 25. And if he's friendly, he should be friendly across most situations in which friendliness is a reasonable and accepted possible way of being."

Thus an honest person would behave like an honest person no matter where they went or how much time passed, and a criminal would remain a criminal.

But when Walter Mischel sat down to do his literature review, he didn't find much support for the idea that personality is stable. "I expected to find that the assumptions would be justified," he says, "and then I started reading study after study that found that actually the data didn't support it."
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Brain markers of numeric, verbal, and spatial reasoning abilities found | KurzweilAI

Brain markers of numeric, verbal, and spatial reasoning abilities found | KurzweilAI | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
A new study helps explain how brain structure and chemistry relate to “fluid intelligence” — the ability to adapt to new situations and solve problems one has never encountered before.

The study, reported in an open-access paper in the journal NeuroImage, observed two facets of fluid intelligence*:

Verbal or spatial reasoning was linked to higher concentrations of a compound called NAA (N-acetyl aspartate) in the medial parietal and posterior cingulate cortices of the brain. NAA is a byproduct of glucose metabolism and a marker of energy production in the brain. It was measured with magnetic resonance spectroscopy.
Number-related problem-solving was linked to brain volume in all subjects, measured using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

The analysis involved 211 research subjects, making it the largest study to date linking brain chemistry and intelligence in living humans. A follow-up analysis revealed that this pattern of findings was observed for males and females when analyzed separately.

A similar separation of reasoning abilities has been demonstrated in previous studies, but more studies will be needed to confirm and extend the findings, the researchers said.
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Biology would leave the Game of Thrones dragons grounded

Biology would leave the Game of Thrones dragons grounded | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
The dragons from the Game of Thrones books and TV series are, sadly, a fiction but that does not mean they are not worthy of some serious (OK, semi-serious) scientific thought and musings. Certainly they are not the most unlikely animals that scientists have seriously suggested could fly as made famous by the proposition in 1920 that Stegosaurus could take to the air (yes, that Stegosaurus, the one with the plates).

Fictional creations in science fiction and fantasy can certainly be instructive and a great launch point for discussion and thoughts about what might be possible or plausible in reality. Many ideas and concepts have appeared in fiction before serious scientists looked at them, and some have been provided a real inspiration for later research and technological developments. With that in mind, just how plausible are these animals, in particular given their huge size?

Although the air is full of birds and insects (and the bats at night), powered flight has only evolved a very limited number of times. In addition to these three living groups, the extinct pterosaurs are the only other group known to have evolved this mechanism of locomotion. The diversity of these groups (10,000 species of birds, 2,000 bats and probably millions of insects) points to the success of groups that can make the leap into, and then stay in, the air. Passive gliding is rather more common with numerous lineages of things like flying squirrels, flying frogs, geckoes, snakes, sugar gliders and more making use of some form of wing and a high point to launch and travel between trees efficiently and quickly.
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Russian Hyperloop could become a 21st-century Silk Road

Russian Hyperloop could become a 21st-century Silk Road | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Traveling along the ancient routes of the Silk Road could take months, with danger and disaster never too far from hand. One day, a new Silk Road might exist between China and Europe – and it should be a lot more secure and only take a day to move goods between the two regions. That's at least one of the idealized goals of a new partnership announced between Hyperloop One and Russian company The Summa Group today.

Confirming rumors that began circulating at the end of May, the two organizations announced plans to build a Hyperloop in Moscow that would connect to the city's existing transportation infrastructure, and one day maybe even move beyond those boundaries.

"We are excited for the partnership between the Summa Group, the Russian Government and Hyperloop One to construct a Hyperloop in Moscow," said Shervin Pishevar, Co-founder and Executive Chairman of Hyperloop One. "Hyperloop can improve life dramatically for the 16 million people in the greater Moscow area, cutting their commute to a fraction of what it is today. Our longer term vision is to work with Russia to implement a transformative new Silk Road: a cargo Hyperloop that whisks freight containers from China to Europe in a day."
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When Will Computers Have Common Sense? Ask Facebook

When Will Computers Have Common Sense? Ask Facebook | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Facebook is well known for its early and increasing use of artificial intelligence. The social media site uses AI to pinpoint its billion-plus users’ individual interests and tailor content accordingly by automatically scanning their newsfeeds, identifying people in photos and targeting them with precision ads. And now behind the scenes the social network’s AI researchers are trying to take this technology to the next level—from pure data-crunching logic to a nuanced form of “common sense” rivaling that of humans.

AI already lets machines do things like recognize faces and act as virtual assistants that can track down info on the Web for smartphone users. But to perform even these basic tasks the underlying learning algorithms rely on computer programs written by humans to feed them massive amounts of training data, a process known as machine learning. For machines to truly have common sense—to be able to figure out how the world works and make reasonable decisions based on that knowledge—they must be able to teach themselves without human supervision. Though this will not happen on a significant scale anytime soon, researchers are taking steps in that direction. In a blog posted Monday, for example, Facebook director of AI Yann LeCun and research engineer Soumith Chintala describe efforts at unsupervised machine learning through a technique called adversarial training.

skimmingbooty's comment, June 22, 1:36 AM
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These solar cells are so flexible they can wrap around a pencil

These solar cells are so flexible they can wrap around a pencil | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Scientists in South Korea have made ultra-thin solar cells flexible enough to wrap around an average pencil - and the bendy panels could soon be used to could power fitness trackers, smart glasses or be woven into clothes to help power phones on the go.

The cells are around a single micrometre thick and are made from the semiconductor gallium arsenide. Researchers, from the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology, stamped the cells directly onto a flexible surface without using an adhesive.

The cells were then "cold welded" to an electrode by applying pressure at 170 degrees Celcius and melting a top layer of material called photoresist that acted as a temporary glue. The photoresist was later peeled away, leaving the direct metal to metal bond.
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A fourth industrial revolution is powering the rise of smart manufacturing

A fourth industrial revolution is powering the rise of smart manufacturing | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Technology is all around us, and sometimes in us. We experience it daily in the way we stream music, in how we use an app to navigate a museum or a shopping centre, or to check our calorie burning and heart rate. This technology is changing our lifestyle and consumption. There is, of course, a lot more technology around us that we don’t see or touch at source. A wave of technological innovation has started to fundamentally alter how we make stuff. And it signals an era of huge change.

In the 1920s, Russian economist Nikolai Kondratiev linked waves of technological change occurring every 50 years or so with cycles in global GDP growth. He suggested that radical inventions could profoundly revolutionise the techno-economic nature of economies. Indeed, the subsequent spawning of countless minor and incremental innovations could penetrate every aspect of the economy.

The idea of Kondratiev waves is that as old technologies exhaust their potential for new ideas to boost the economy, they slow down until a critical mass of new technologies comes to fruition all at once. That then kicks off a new technological wave that is able to trigger a spate of new applications in new processes, new products and new services.
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Tim Cook: Coding should be a 'second language' taught to all children

Tim Cook: Coding should be a 'second language' taught to all children | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
All primary school children should be taught to code alongside learning the alphabet, according to Apple boss Tim Cook.

Speaking at Startup Fest Europe in Amsterdam, the firm's CEO said coding is "just another language, and just like any other language it should be taught in schools."

Cook also told the audience to "never do something strictly for money" and to "stay hungry." The 55-year-old made the comments during an interview with Neelie Kroes, an ex-european commissioner for digital agenda.

Kroes questioned Cook about the app economy, Apple's work with healthcare companies, and his view of startups in Europe.

"Coding should be a requirement at schools," Cook said. "We are doing our kids a disservice if we are not introducing them to coding."

He added that coding is being "absorbed by everything" and universities should form links with companies to help develop the skills throughout a person’s education.
Elda Fuentes's curator insight, June 19, 8:45 AM

Cook said. "We are doing our kids a disservice if we are not introducing them to coding."

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Sex is a costly molecular kind of wizardry – why evolve it? – Arunas L Radzvilavicius | Aeon Ideas

At its heart, sex is a process of genetic mixing: it creates unique sets of genes and trait combinations different from either of the two parents. In eukaryotes (organisms such as animals and plants), the molecular machinery of recombination deliberately breaks the chromosomes into chunks, only to reunite the pieces of maternal and paternal origin into novel permutations that are then passed on to the progeny: a remarkable act of molecular wizardry, perfected over billions years of evolutionary tinkering.

But it is not the molecular workings of recombination that captivates biologists the most, it’s the fact that genetic mixing in the form of sex has evolved in the first place, in spite of it being a cumbersome and costly endeavour. Evolutionary theorists agree that cloning, in many ways, is a more efficient mode of reproduction, which, in a world governed by the rules of natural selection, should readily outcompete sex. An asexual female, for example, would produce twice as many offspring as the sexual one, avoiding the burden of bearing males or searching for suitable mating partners.

Sex is unknown in bacteria – the simplest and most ancient living cells on Earth – that reproduce by simply splitting into two. Evolving considerably later, eukaryotes are built of much larger and awfully complex cells, their insides full of organelles and membranous labyrinths buzzing with sophisticated molecular machinery and cargo-transport networks. Unlike bacteria, very few eukaryotic species revert to strict asexuality, and those that do seem to be relatively short-lived on the evolutionary timescale. Sex is costly, but it also appears to be essential for the long-term survival of complex life.

Some of the most talented theorists have striven to understand why. Myriad explanations made their way into science journals and textbooks – from the earliest proposals that sex generates variation and speeds up adaptation, to mathematical models demonstrating that gene shuffling bolsters resistance to parasites and slows down the accumulation of hazardous genetic defects. But even with the overwhelming amount of attention the problem has received over the years, it is still considered unsolved.


None of the canonical hypotheses is fundamentally wrong; on the contrary, many of them are supported by substantial, and still growing, amounts of experimental evidence. But the classical explanations were developed with modern eukaryotes in mind, and can only explain the modern part of the evolutionary puzzle – why sex persists in contemporary complex organisms. They do not tell us why and how sex first arose.
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